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Asking the Right Questions: Standing Out as a Memorable Candidate


As a career coach, I frequently stress to my clients the undeniable power and necessity of asking relevant, probing questions during an interview. Not only can great questions make you stand out as a memorable candidate, but they can also provide invaluable insight into whether the organization aligns with your own career goals and personal values. In our evolving work landscape, with remote and hybrid work environments gaining momentum, it's critical that questions about work structure, culture, and collaboration are candidly and openly addressed by both parties.


The Power of Pertinent Questions


One of my favorite questions for candidates to ask, particularly of a hiring manager, is, "What keeps you up at night?" This question, though somewhat unconventional, can prompt an honest, insightful response about the key issues the team or organization is grappling with. From there, you can follow up by illustrating how you can contribute to solving these issues, perhaps by sharing an example of how you've tackled similar challenges in the past.


Many candidates tend to focus on asking questions about work hours, benefits, and so on. While these questions are important, they often don't delve deep enough into the heart of the organization and its culture. Furthermore, most of this information is readily available online, on the company's website, or platforms like Glassdoor.



Beyond the Website: The Social Media Deep Dive


I always encourage my clients to delve into a company's social media presence, not just their static websites. Social media pages offer the most updated information on various aspects of the company, such as announcements, employee engagement activities, community service efforts, mergers, partnerships, and more. You can get a feel for the company culture based of the tone of their posts: Humorous and light-hearted? Formal tone? Pictures or illustrations? Are their posts current and up to date? This information can serve as a solid foundation in your research and preparation for asking more targeted and informed questions.


Probing Questions for Today's Work Environment


Here are some highly relevant questions to ask in the current work environment:


1. Can you give me an example of how this team/department collaborates across the business or with other departments?

2. What's the biggest challenge this team is facing right now?

3. Have there been any layoffs here in the last 2-3 years? What does the organization's financial stability look like? (You should dive into company financial news ahead of time)

4. How does leadership view remote work or hybrid work?

5. What's the onboarding process like for new hires, especially those who are remote?

6. Is there a formal process or a designated person to help new hires acclimate?

7. If the role is remote/hybrid, what are the tools that the team uses for collaboration?

8. If the role isn't remote, is there still an opportunity to work remotely as needed? How do you, as the hiring manager, view remote work in this particular role?


And let's not forget the classics:


1. Why/how long has this role been open?

2. Is this role new or a replacement? If new, what are the top 3 goals for the new role and how do you see it evolving?

3. What are the training and development opportunities available?

4. What are the biggest challenges with this role in the first 90 days from your perspective?


Asking the right questions during an interview can be a game-changer. By strategically addressing your inquiries, you not only present yourself as a thoughtful, engaged candidate, but you also gather crucial information about the organization, its culture, and its approach to today's work environment. Remember, the interview is not just for the organization to learn about you, but also for you to learn about the organization. So, arm yourself with these questions, and you'll be well on your way to making an informed, confident decision about your next career move.


Visit my website at www.ayannaejackson.com for additional career resources.

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